Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Here come the Chargers, again

As far as football teams go, the San Diego Chargers are a slacker's team. They play on the west coast after all the other teams, in a city that is essentially at room temperature year-round. They're a bit like Homer Simpson doing his taxes on the day they're due, driving to the tax office to arrive just as it closes, and launching his envelope from the doorway, watching it bounce around before finally landing in the bin, albeit the one for audits.

This is a topic I love to write about. Two years ago, I predicted that the 2-3 Chargers would win the division over the 6-0 Broncos, which they did. Last year, I made the same prediction, but the Chargers came up short against the Chiefs.

Now, the stage is set again. In an act of what may or may not constitute cheering against "my team", I'm rooting for the Chargers to overtake the Broncos for the AFC West title. Or, failing that, I'd be satisfied with a wild card spot. Just a few weeks ago, the Chargers were 4-7 while the Broncos were a heartwarming story-in-the-making at a slightly-better 6-5. Now the gap has been closed to 8-6 and 7-7, and while the 7-7 Raiders are in between the Broncos and Chargers, I have every reason to believe that one of the league's most talented teams can do this again.

Their record over the years:

2007 - 5-5 start, 11-5 finish, went to the AFC championship game
2008 - 4-8 start, 8-8 finish, went to the AFC divisional round
2009 - 2-3 start, 13-3 finish, went to the divisional round
2010 - 2-5 start, 9-7 finish, just missed the playoffs
2011 - 4-7 start, but I like their odds

This is a team that shows just how unpredictable and sometimes how meaningless the regular season can be, if you consider that an 8-8 team can go to the second round of the playoffs, or that a team that starts 5-5 can play for a chance to make the Super Bowl. In another setting, I believe that this is a team that could have won two Super Bowls in the last decade, but instead we have the peculiar phenomenon of miraculously fast finishes.

In fact, even I wrote this team off just a month ago, weepily noting that their window of opportunity has probably closed. I certainly wouldn't be surprised if a team that's made its name shooting itself in the foot managed to do so again and missed the playoffs, but right now I'm rooting for the Chargers to spare us the hagiograhpies of Tim Tebow in the playoffs.

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